Writing Prompt #6: Book in a Tree

This writing prompt is from a recent hike that I wrote about in a recent work out post. Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology. We’re hammer and tongs with editing, wrangling comma splices and irregular verbs with wild abandon.

Redwood Press

Today’s writing prompt comes from a hike we recently did where I found a book stuck up in a tree, which I thought was a little unusual—especially since it sat there for three weeks. The talented painter, Dave Stone, gave me the idea for this writing prompt with a comment he made on my personal blog about the Book in a Tree. Thanks, Dave!

Produce a piece of writing or art that is inspired by this picture of a book in a tree.

For bonus points, choose any book, place it in a tree and mediate for a minute or two, clearing your mind. Then randomly pick 2D6 different words from the text and work those words into your story.*

If you come up with a piece of writing using this prompt, let me know about it in the comments: I’d like to read it. You can also use…

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Work Outs: July 18 – 24, 2021 (and Castle Ravenloft Board Game Session)

It was nice being able to enjoy a little gaming again with three friends and this time it was the Castle Ravenloft D&D board game where I had an excuse to use a dwarf I painted more than a year ago now. We’ve been playing the scenarios as a campaign, and this time it was “Gravestorm’s Phylactery,” where the idea is to neutralize the eponymous Gravestorm—a skeleton-dragon monstrosity with sharp claws and teeth as well as a fearsome tendency to breathe gouts of lightning at one and sundry!

My friends usually play the same characters: an elf wizard, dragonborn fighter and dwarf cleric. I favor a dwarf fighter, who I usually set up so she has some nifty defensive powers as well as the ability to move quickly as needed. One doesn’t usually think of dwarves as being fleet of foot, but I guess there are always exceptions.

Sun, July 18th

Afternoon Walk: 12.43 miles.

Mon, July 19th

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • (Afternoon Workout) Did one set of the MV Steel Mace Workout with my 5 lb. mace and then two more sets with the 10 lb. mace. Then I worked with the 2 lb. indian clubs for 15 minutes.

Tues, July 20th

  • Cable Lat Pull Downs (Hog Bar): 70 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Standing Cable Rows (Hog Bar): 60 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • (Superset) DB Bicep Curls: 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Dead Bugs (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Set #2: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Set #3: Full Squats: 12 reps
    • Set #4: Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 12 reps

I think Gravestorm would look really good with even just a minimum amount of painting. Basically a usual sort of skeleton recipe with some extra attention to the wings would look quite pretty. Knowing me, if I painted this creature, I’d probably want to dedicate it to Nurgle somehow.

Wed, July 21st

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • Arnold Press: 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Lateral Raises: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
    • Did these as a superset with my bench press warm-up sets.
  • BB Bench Press: 65 lbs. x 8 reps, 75 lbs. x 8 reps, 85 lbs. x 8 reps, 95 lbs. x 8 reps
  • (Superset): Tricep Pushdowns (rope): 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Dead Bugs (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Set #2: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Set #3: Light Spring Bar: Hands Pronated x 12 reps + Hands Supinated x 12 reps
    • Set #4: Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 12 reps

Thur, July 22nd

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • (Afternoon) Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Hill Program, Level 11. RPM’s: 70 – 100+

Here we have a post-victory celebratory photo op. It was a close thing, as it often can be, and besides the obvious threat of Gravestorm and the other monsters, we had a few pretty vicious traps and random encounters to deal with as well. It was good to get a chance to use one of my dwarves, that I bought from Etsy, and roll some dice with friends again too. I’ll probably use one of the other dwarves the next time we play.

Fri, July 23rd

Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.

  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 4 mm x 1 + 4 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 5): Hold Guide (60 lbs.) closed with piece of paper for time: Left = 30 sec, Right = 40 sec

Sat, July 24th

Afternoon Walk: 5.08 miles. Did about 10 minutes of miscellaneous calisthenics after the walk.

Weekly Weigh-in: I am up 1 lb. since last week. My total loss thus far is 28.4 lbs.

“Little Paranoias” horror anthology by Sonora Taylor free on Amazon through July 30th

From the Redwood Press blog.

Redwood Press

Sonora Taylor is making Little Paranoias, her 2019 collection of short horror fiction available for free on Amazon until midnight (Pacific Time) on July 30th. I downloaded the e-book myself yesterday and have added it to my ever-growing reading list.

Click here to download Little Paranoias for free through July 30th.

About Little Paranoias:

Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?

“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear —…

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Work Outs: July 11 – 17, 2021 (Book in the Forest)

I got out of the habit of posting my workouts as I shifted focus to my book publishing project with most of my online activity taking place on my new Redwood Press site. That is going well and although I’m still focused on it, I think it is best that I get back into the habit of posting my weekly workout log. I like working out a lot so I still train even when I’m not keeping records, but if I don’t have a plan then I tend to do the fun stuff and not do the stuff that isn’t as much fun. As is often the case with many things in life, it is the “not fun” stuff that seems to align most closely with my current goals.*

Sun, July 11th

Afternoon Walk: 6.07 miles. Calories: 2810, Protein: 171 g.

We’ve seen this book perched up in a tree for the last three weeks now, when we do one of our usual hikes. The second week I told my husband, “I’m going to take that book if it is still here next week,” and sure enough it was. So I grabbed it and put it in my pack.

I flipped through it later, when we were having a water break, and noticed that someone had torn various pages out, seemingly randomly, which was too bad because I was looking forward to reading the book.** Like my husband said, “It is a shame, but when you gotta go, you gotta go.” I ended up putting the book back where we found it a few days later.

Mon, July 12th

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • Warmed up for afternoon workout with the 1 lb. indian clubs and dynamic stretching.
  • Ring Rows: 45° x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Lat Pull Downs (hog bar): 60 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Sandbag (100 lbs.) and Fitness Rock:
    • (Set One) Picked up bag from 16″ platform and walked it outside (40 steps) to the tailgate of our Land Cruiser.
    • (Set Two) Picked up bag from tailgate (~31″) and held in bear hug hold for 30 seconds.
    • (Set Three) Picked fitness rock up from ground and threw it up and back, over my shoulder in an explosive manner. I did this for 8 repetitions.
    • (Set Four): Sandbag Bear Hug Hold: 30 seconds.
    • (Set Five): Threw fitness rock over shoulder x 8 reps
    • (Set Six): Picked up bag from tailgate and walked it 45 steps back to where it lives inside of our basement.
  • DB Curls: 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Ended the workout with some static stretching.

Calories: 1974, Protein: 158 g.

Tues, July 13th

Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Hill Program, Level 10. RPM’s: 70 – 80. Did some dynamic and static stretching afterward.

Calories: 2203, Protein: 144 g.

A shot up through some young redwoods during a water and peanut break on the trail at Henry Cowell State Park, Felton, California (USA).

Wed, July 14th

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • Afternoon workout. I warmed up with some dynamic stretching.
  • Landmine Squats: Bar x 4 sets x 15 reps
  • Romanian Dead Lifts: 75 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Finished the workout with some static stretching.

Thur, July 15th

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • Afternoon Workout: warmed up with 1 lb. indian clubs and dynamic stretching.
  • Arnold Press: 30 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Lateral Raises: 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • BB Bench Press: 65 lbs. x 8 reps, 75 lbs. x 8 reps, 85 lbs. x 8 reps, 95 lbs. x 8 reps
  • (Superset): Tricep Pushdowns (rope): 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Dead Bugs (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Set #2: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 12 reps
    • Set #3: Light Spring Bar: Hands Pronated x 12 reps + Hands Supinated x 12 reps
    • Set #4: Face Pulls: 15 lbs. x 12 reps

Ended the workout with some static stretching. Calories: 2213, Protein: 124 g.

Fri, July 16th

Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.

  • (Morning) Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 4 mm x 1 + 4 reps, Right = 4mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 5): Left/Right (Guide Gripper, 50 lbs.) = kept fully closed holding piece of paper for 20/40 seconds

Calories: 2019, Protein: 137 g.

Sat, July 17th

  • Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Hill Program, Level 10. RPM’s: 70 – 85. For the last couple of minutes I pedaled as fast as I safely could at times; I think I peaked around 146 rpm’s. I could have probably beaten that if I still had the foot clips that came with the bike, but those are long lost since most of the time I don’t like using them.
  • Cossack Squats (4-point using bench): 10 reps
  • Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 10 reps
  • Taekwondo Snap Kick/Leg Extension Exercise (ea. leg): 10 reps
  • Hindu Squats: 20 reps
  • Sumo Squats with Leg Abduction (4-ct): 10 reps
  • Pinch Grip Lift (Hub): 12 lbs. x 4 sets x 10 secs
  • Concluded with some dynamic and static stretching. Worked some on the Tree Pose.

Calories: 2250, Protein: 106 g. (I am up 3.6 lbs. since I stopped tracking my workouts in mid-April. My total loss thus far is 29.4 lbs.)

* Case in point are the Captains of Crush grippers. I don’t particularly enjoy training with these (my husband loves them) but I do enjoy the results I get from using them. I achieved one of my gripper goals back in February but have been very spotty in my CoC training since I stopped recording my workouts. Now I can’t do what I did back in February. I’ve still been working on my grip—mainly through using the steel mace and some other things, which I do enjoy—and while those fun things are good for building strong hands, they aren’t a replacement for the specific benefit one gets from the grippers.

** Not enough to see if I could get the book from the library or buy it.

“Valhalla is a Lie” by Benjamin Thomas chosen for The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror anthology

We signed our first author for the anthology. I posted this on the Redwood Press site and am reblogging it over here.

Redwood Press

Don and I are pleased to announce that Benjamin Thomas’ excellent short story, “Valhalla is a Lie,” will appear in The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology.

As Benjamin says himself, nothing like a “little valkyrie-inspired wasteland horror due out right before Halloween!” We agree, nothing says Halloween quite like murderous valkyries.

 Benjamin is a fellow New Englander and his short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications. His medical thriller and crime novel, Jack Be Quick, is available from Owl Hollow Press.

We will be announcing some more signings next week, including some poetry and possibly a couple more stories.

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What The . . . !

I thought this piece of High Cuisine by John (or John’s wife, rather) of Just Needs Varnish! was pretty awesome so I thought I’d share it, and thank you to John for permission to do so.  I might have to try making it at some point, using all plant-based ingredients of course so my husband can have it. He has a birthday coming up soon — perhaps I will surprise him with a magnificent breakfast courtesy of John’s wife. 🙂

Just Needs Varnish!

My wife found this method of creating a special breakfast on a YouTube video, so we had a go at making it (well, she did, ’cause I’m pretty useless in the kitchen)!

Buy an uncut loaf of bread.

Cut the top off, hollow it out and then butter it.

Cook a boatload of healthy food for a breakfast or, better still, unhealthy food! There were also mushrooms and tomatoes to go with this lot, but they’re being kept warm while the serious frying goes on!

Stuff everything into the loaf and put the top on.

Carefully cut the loaf in half (only if you’re sharing – I was told I was sharing).

And voila!

Brilliant! Thoroughly enjoyed it! After all, an army marches on its stomach!

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Started new site for Redwood Press

I’ve been working on a site for Redwood Press, which is going to be the name we publish under. I plan on continuing to post writing updates here but I wanted a separate place where I’m not also talking about miniatures, working out or recipes. My husband and I made a long list of names and decided on Redwood mainly because we live near redwoods and love them. Not sure that is a good basis for a name but there you have it.

Below is the general logo I plan on using for now. The website is pretty small, since this is the beginning, but like anything else it will grow in time.

I put up some writer’s guidelines and much to my surprise this morning I had over 50 stories in my inbox and I’ve gotten another 12 today so far. That was encouraging and a much greater response than I anticipated for the day after going live.

I’ve been pretty busy with this but I have managed to pick away a little each day on the Paint the Crap You Already Own! roundup. I hope to have it done by the end of the month or at the latest before the current Solstice painting challenge closes.

Have some painters coming tomorrow to paint three rooms where we tore out the carpet and put down faux wood flooring. That seems like a good time to go find a corner somewhere amongst the piles of stuff, that we had to take out of our rooms, and read some stories. Hope one of them is a really good gargoyle tale!

The Lost Librarian’s Grave: Gargoyle Cover

The sense that I’m getting is the gargoyle cover is the most popular of the original three both from the comments I’ve seen on this blog and from running them by people I know, who don’t read the blog. So I did some tweaks over the weekend on the gargoyle covers and this is what I’ve come up with so far.

I fiddled around with some filters and made the gargoyle and rusty reptiles a little more vibrant, which I like better than the original. The cover on the far right is the same one from the original post but with said filters applied. Dave of Faith & Steel, when he was commenting on the original covers, wrote that he was “ambivalent” on the framing of the original picture. I thought about what he said and decided it would be fun to get rid of the framing and see how it looked.

I’m not sure which one I currently like the best, but the one on the left, where I took out the stone background, does seem like I could put a small block of text in the middle right area. Perhaps a list of some of the authors or something like that. I don’t know if I will do that, assuming I go with that design, but it is something to think about.

If anyone has any further ideas or observations about the covers, I welcome your comments.*

Imagine being petrified but fully aware in this form for hundreds of years!**

I kind of have gargoyles on the brain now. I’ve been trying to think of some good short stories that I’ve read featuring gargoyles and I have to admit that nothing comes to mind. I even went back through my reading diary, where I’ve been keeping track of my reading since 2010 — nothing there either.

I did find a couple of things on Amazon. The first is a short story called “The Beast Within” by D.F. Holland, that I was able to download for free. I’ll probably read that tonight. The second is a collection by Clark Ashton Smith called The Maker of Gargoyles and Other Stories. Some of the reviewers say it isn’t his best work, but I am considering picking up the e-book anyway since I’m a fan of Smith. Especially his poetry.

My next steps with the anthology are to continue work on the new website and to put together some writer’s guidelines. Speaking of guidelines, I’ll have to remember to mention that I’d love to read some gargoyle stories. Hope everyone is doing well.

* Thank you to everyone who responded thus far. I value and appreciate your opinions.

** Photo of “Gargoyles Magdalen College Oxford England” by Chris Creagh. I made no changes. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribuion-Share Alike 3.0.

“The Lost Librarian’s Grave” Horror Anthology

I have been setting the wheels in motion toward starting a small press where I publish speculative fiction in e-book and possibly print formats. The first effort will be a short story anthology with the unlikely title of The Lost Librarian’s Grave. The collection will feature stories of “doom, sorcery and premature burial,” which are themes dear to my Chaos Lady heart.

I put together three front covers this afternoon and thought I’d share them and ask which (if any) works the best. I would very much appreciate your opinion, if you have one! As usual, if you click on an image you’ll see a larger version.

My next moves involve working on another WordPress site specifically dedicated to my publishing efforts and also some writer’s guidelines so I can put the word out to writers, who might be interested in sending me their work. I will smile favorably on science horror, dark fantasy and the like because there are many dark jewels that are horror stories, mined by solitary dwarves, hideous in their waxing greed … tales of loss and murder plucked on harps by spurned lovers wringing out their hearts in songs of revenge and regret, and weird fantasies of sentient, well, you get the idea.

The plan is to release The Lost Librarian’s Grave in late September or early October. Such tales seem apropos for the upcoming season.

Painting-wise, I’ve started putting together the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up. These round-up’s end up being pretty sizeable so I’ve found the best and most fun way to do them (like publishing as it turns out) is to work a little on them each day.

The Summer Solstice Painting Challenge

This painting challenge ends on June 20th.*

It is time for the next painting challenge with the second annual “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” painting challenge just ended. So I thought I’d announce a May-June challenge before I get started with the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up.

For this challenge, I’m looking for pictures of whatever single model you think is the best one that you finished anytime between May 3rd and June 20th, which just happens to be the summer solstice at least in the northern hemisphere where I live. You may also do a diorama for this challenge.

By “best” this can mean whatever you want it to mean: the best paint job, the model you like the most, or any other criteria you wish to apply. The reasons are yours but remember there can only be one best model.

For example, Toad here is one of my favorite miniatures not because of the paint job but because I like the miniature and I’ve built up a fondness for him using him a lot as I have in games of D&D as well as a marker/mascot for my Nurgle army back when I was playing a lot of 40K.

Rules of the Challenge

  • The challenge closes at the end of the summer solstice: June 20, 2021 at midnight (your local time).  If you can’t get your pictures posted by that date, it is fine.  Just post them as soon as you can.
  • A model is eligible for the challenge if it is completed between May 3rd and June 20th, 2021.
  • I’m looking to only see a single model per artist for this challenge. Instead of a single model, you may complete a single diorama for this challenge.
  • Questions and/or ideas?  Let me know in the comments.

* Photo of “Stonehenge in your face” by Simon Wakefield. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.